Sunday, April 24, 2016

Glenolden Mill's "Dusty Miller" and Lansdowne Theatre Show

The ruins of the Glen Olden Mill which burned in February, 1896, The ruins today would be in the middle of Delmar Drive as you enter Folcroft Boro from South Ave.
 The mill was built by Thomas Shipley in 1755 and came into the hands of Elisha Phipps in 1808
which is the setting of this story. Ephraim Inskeep bought the mill in 1828. Inskeep married Mary Olden (1795-1875) from New Jersey, a widow with a daughter, Margaretta. Margaretta married WIlliam Ridgeway and they moved to Chester County and had several children including  Ephraim Inskeep Ridgeway. In August 1849 both Margaretta and William Ridgeway dies from cholera and their children went back to the mill to live with their grandparents, Ephraim and Mary Inskeep. Sometime in the 1860's  Ephraim Inskeep Ridgeway took over the mill. He named the mill, Glen Olden, Glen for the pretty Muckinipattus Creek valley and Olden for his mothers maiden name.
 Famous Voyage of a Delaware County Manufacturer and Navigator – He Was Mourned As Dead – Elisha Phipps, the Miller of Glenolden Mill, Who Sailed the Muckinipattus on the High Seas in a Quest for a Market, Found It and Came Home With Gold in his Pocket
The advantages of this site for manufacturing purposes caught the eye of one of the earliest settlers, who came long before Penn, as the Ridgeway family, the present owners, have deeds going back to 1653 when the point of land washed by the Darby and Muckinipattus creeks was given the name of Calcon Hook, but nearly a century elapsed before a member of the sturdy family of Shipley from Darby, staked out the foundations for his mill in the wilderness.
             LITTLE TO FEAR FROM INDIANS – Despite the presence of a few predatory hands of Indians the farmers had pushed well in to the forests and meadows inland and Shipley had little to fear from any visits of red men, most of whom had retreated before the advance of the white man, while those that remained were too lazy or too cowardly to fight.  The squaws soon learned that Shipley’s hoppers ground wheat and corn with much less labor than was included in the aboriginal method and were among the earliest customers, though on the free list.
            Through all the Revolutionary period the wheels of Glen Olden Mills churned on and many a Colonist hauled his gram from the Chester and Darby Pike down the Calcon Hook path to the mills.
            Peace came, the young Republic was fairly on its way when a character who gave a distinct personality to the grist mill became its owner.  He was Elisha Phipps – sturdy, stolid, indefatigable.
            Phipps was not only the owner and operator of the mill, but his own shipmaster and commission agent.  He built a ship which he christened the Dusty Miller and used it to convey his flour from his mill wharf to Philadelphia and New York.  Phipps combined the trails of a Girard, a Captain Cook and a Letter, for his bins burst with grist and his boat was in for barters at many points.
            DUSTY MILLER DISAPPEARED – One day in August, the Dusty Miller well freighted, weighted anchor from the mill floated out from the Muckinipattus into Darby Creek and Phipps hoisted sail from New York.  Days went into weeks and Mrs. Phipps still looked in vain for the sail on Darby Creek. Then she made the stage journey to New York, but the Dusty Miller had not been in port, and none of the merchants with whom Phipps dealt had seen him.  Carrying a heavy heart, the wife returned with the consciousness that she was a widow.  Evidently the Dusty Miller was a wreck on the desolate New Jersey Coats.
            But still the wheels ground out the grist, farmers brought their grain, neighbor came to render sympathy, and John Pilmore, with tender sympathy for the bereaved woman, entertained the notion that time would assuage her grief and likewise make him owner of the prosperous mill.  Even disaster and death bring their competitions.
            FATE OF ELISHA PHIPPS – And, Elisha Phipps – manufacturer, navigator, trader – what of his fate?  When the Dusty Miller reached the capes of the mouth of Delaware Bay on an August day, he conceived the notion that the West Indian ports offered better markets than could be found in New York, he headed his boat southward, and with favoring winds made a rapid voyage to Havana, Cuba.  His cargo of flour and cornmeal was quickly exchanged for one of molasses and rum, with a goodly number of Spanish doubloons for the locker of Phipps’ cabin; then the path of the Dusty Miller was headed north.  Rum and molasses formed a ratio for a ready sale in New York and after taking on some household necessities, Phipps’ boat plowed the Narrows before a stiff breeze on the way north.
            SAILED BACK TO PORT AT LAST – One day in the latter part of October, as the sun was nearing the western horizon, a sail appeared off the mouth of the Muckinipattus, and a few minutes later the Dusty Miller moored to the mill wharf.
            Then Phipps nonchalantly walked into the house, tossed his hat into a corner, sat down to the supper table that had just been spread, and ate the evening meal with no more concern than if he had just returned from a social call upon a neighbor.
            The Glen Olden Mill changed owners from time to time, then came into possession of Ephraim J. Ridgeway, by who it was operated, but one fateful night a few years ago an incendiary opened the torch and one of Pennsylvania’s historic mills, around which the association of two centuries was simply a ruin and a memory of ancient Calcon Hook.

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